Carlsen Takes Lead In Chessable Masters Final
Magnus Carlsen. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen Takes Lead In Chessable Masters Final

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Magnus Carlsen took the lead in what was a close first match with GM Anish Giri on Friday in the Chessable Masters final. The world champion won the second blitz game after being 2-2 in the rapid.

How to watch?
The games of the Chessable Masters can be found here as part of our live events platform. GM Aryan Tari, IM Levy Rozman, WGM Qiyu Zhou, and IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy are providing daily commentary on Hikaru Nakamura's Twitch channel, embedded on

Carlsen hasn't lost a "set" yet in this tournament as he defeated both the world numbers two and three 2-0. He can now win the whole thing on Saturday with one more match victory against Giri, who did have his chances in what was a fairly close affair.

The first game was drawn, with Giri defending a slightly worse rook endgame quite well. In the next, the Dutchman stumbled in what was a tablebase draw but a difficult endgame in practical play.

It was a vintage Carlsen victory, who got a tiny but permanent advantage in the endgame as Giri didn't mind playing with a worse pawn structure with an isolated pawn on e5. "A weakness is only a weakness if you can attack it," commentator GM Yasser Seirawan quoted GM Viktor Korchnoi, and that had some relevance indeed: e5 wasn't a huge problem, and the rook ending was holdable. But in blitz it is never easy.

Magnus Carlsen
Carlsen: "I am really happy with the fact that I managed to pose a lot of questions from a relatively innocuous position." Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In game three Giri didn't get more than a microscopic advantage as White, and that meant he had to win on demand with the black pieces against the world champion. It's hard to imagine a tougher task, but Giri managed as Carlsen got confused by a knight move and missed a double attack:

That meant the players had to play two blitz games with five minutes on the clock and a three-second increment and possibly an armageddon. Giri missed a golden opportunity in the first in yet another rook endgame—the theme of the match. He was winning in no fewer than three positions.

Anish Giri
That was a big chance for Giri. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

So far, it was an equal match with ups and downs for both players. The same can be said for the last blitz game, where Carlsen was the one playing for two results all the time, but Giri missed several chances to draw even close to the end.

There was a small incident at the start when Carlsen was disconnected from the internet as early as move four, which lasted a minute and 39 seconds. (The rule is that players need to get back online on their own time.)

The moment itself, where White needs to play such a basic recapture on c3, confused Giri. He didn't play well in the next few moves but managed to get back into the game later. 

"I think it affected Anish more," Carlsen said. "To be fair, I was thinking you maybe want to berserk me!" said Giri, referring to a system of play where one player chooses to have half the amount of time on the clock for double the points with a win.

"Happy to win obviously, but that was insane," said Carlsen.

And so an incredibly tense match between two great matadors eventually ended in Carlsen's favor, but Giri has another chance. They continue their final on Saturday at 7 a.m. Pacific time / 16:00 Central Europe. Giri needs to win and if he does, a third match will be played on Sunday.

Games Final, Day 1

The Chessable Masters runs June 20-July 5 on chess24 as part of the Magnus Carlsen Tour. The prize fund is $150,000 with the first prize of $45,000. The time control is 15 minutes for all moves with a 10-second increment after each move. No draw offers are allowed before move 40.

Chessable Masters bracket

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